“Watch out!” Hermione cried as Lavender almost beaned her across the head with a pizza dish. “I don’t have eyes in the back of my head you know!”
“Sorry!” Lavender called out as she whisked across the restaurant, placing the dish down on a table. “Anything else you need?” she asked her customers, who shook their heads and thanked her. “Enjoy!” she said as she turned and went back to the kitchen.
“I swear, tips just get worse and worse these days!” Hermione leaned against the counter and pulled a few Sickles out of her pocket. “I mean, I slaved for this table and look what they left me!”
Lavender tried not to smile. She had gotten a few Galleons that day, but saw no need to mention that to her cousin.
“I need a tankard for butterbeer.” Hermione was now saying to one of the kitchen elves, Trippy. The elf pulled one out of the vat of hot water and dried it off, then handed it to her. “Thanks.” She said, grabbing a jug of butterbeer and sweeping out of the kitchen.
“Good turnout today.” The owner of Hogsmeade Pizza, Leonora, was obviously very happy as she used her wand to make 6 crusts spin flat into the air. Lavender watched in amazement as they settled back down onto the boards, and Leonora started to ladle her special secret sauce onto them by hand.
“What’s in that sauce?” Lavender asked, trying to catch her boss off guard. Leonora was a terrible secret keeper, but remained hard as stone when asked what she put in her sauce. She, Hermione and Susan had been trying to find out what she did to it ever since they started working there, but had been unable to get Leonora to spill her ingredient list even once.
“Nice try.” Leonora said, whisking cheese from three graters onto the top of the pizzas.
“Can’t blame me for trying!” Lavender grinned and went back out to the main floor, making her rounds to the tables.
Hermione set the tankard down on the table and began to pour some butterbeer for the gentleman. She glanced up from the cup and out the window, and saw the door to the Quidditch shop down the way open, and a young man with messy black hair came walking out, what Hermione could tell was the newest racing broom, the Windrider. Along with him was another young man with short brown hair; he seemed to be fawning over the broomstick. She leaned over to get a closer look at the guy carrying the Windrider; he seemed familiar for some reason.
“Miss!” Hermione was startled and horrified as she looked down and saw that she had emptied the jug of butterbeer and it was dripping onto the man’s lap.
“I’m so sorry!” she cried, mortified. She grabbed a napkin and pressed it gently on the man’s lap, covering up her embarrassment by smiling brightly and making her eyes apologetic.
“It’s…quite…allright…” the man’s face was now bright red and he was the one apologizing. “Think nothing of it, I can clean it right up myself.”
Hermione smiled again. “All right then.” She straightened back up to look out the window, but the black haired guy and his friend were gone. She pouted briefly but shrugged. If he lived here in Hogsmeade, Hermione knew she’d see him again; it was a tiny enough town. Crossing back over to the bar, she was surprised to see Susan trudging up the stairs.
“Hey Sue!” Lavender called, carrying two more flat trays.
“Susan why are you here so early?” Hermione asked, pushing the empty jug over the counter to Trippy.
“I had to get away from my father!” Susan exclaimed, tossing her bag behind the counter. “Do you realize he just paid 5000 Galleons, just to watch me pass out? If I hear him complain about it one more time, I’m going to go absolutely MAD!”
Hermione giggled. “That had to be the funniest damn thing I’ve seen in a long time.”
“Hermione!” Lavender frowned. She put a comforting arm around Susan’s shoulders. “Are you okay, really?”
Susan shrugged. “I guess so. Ron still won’t talk to me, I’ve sent him three owls and been over there twice.”
“Why did you pass out?” Lavender asked.
“I saw myself fat and pregnant, cleaning up Ron’s clothes and his boots every night, slaving over a stove for meals, and doing nothing….” Susan stared at the wall. “And now I don’t know if he’ll ever want to marry me.”
“He’ll come around, men always do.” Hermione said confidently, tossing her dark curls back over her shoulder. Three guys at the counter sat up straight as she did this, and she winked at them.
“Do you really think so?” Susan asked.
“Oh I know so.” Hermione said. She motioned with her head, and sure enough, there was Ron, standing at the entrance to the restaurant.
“Well if isn’t Romeo and Juliet!” one of the guys who had been gawking at Hermione said.
Ron glowered at him. “It’d do you a world of good to shut up.”
The other guys started laughing as a different one started humming a wedding march. Ron snarled and took a step closer, but Susan shoved past the jerk and pushed Ron back.
“Asshole.” Hermione snapped at the troublemaker. She and Lavender hurried to the window as Susan yanked Ron outside.
“Ron, please, don’t leave I really want to talk to you.” Susan pleaded.
“Yeah, okay, I just want to go kick their bloody asses!” Ron’s loud voice echoed down the street.
“Fine, later, but now, please stay and talk to me?” her eyes were large, and Ron felt something inside him soften.
“All right.” He said, and took her hand. They walked a few paces down the street silently. “So what happened?” he finally asked.
Susan sighed. “I don’t know…when I got up there, and everyone was staring at me…I just couldn’t do it…”
Ron looked away from her. “Do you love me?” he asked.
“Ron of course I do!” Susan said immediately, stopping and turning so that they were facing one another. “I just…I need a little more time to get used to the idea of us living together, same name, same life….” She leaned onto him and rested her head on his chest, staring up at him imploringly. “I love you so much.”
Ron looked at her a few moments, and she stuck her lower lip out in a small pout.
“Please Ron?” she was now near the point of begging.
A smile quirked at the corner of his mouth as he wrapped his arms around her waist. “I guess we’ll have to get used to people staring at us wherever we go.”
“Let them stare.” Susan said, bringing her arms up around his neck. “I’ve got you and that’s all that matters to me.”
A full-fledged grin had now spread itself across Ron’s face as he leaned down and kissed her, bringing her body up against his tightly. After a few moments of blissful lip contact in the middle of the street, Susan pulled away and smiled.
“All right now then?” he asked, not letting go of her waist.
“Yeah, I’m okay.” She felt ten times better now that Ron wasn’t mad anymore.
“Well, how about November then?” his question caught her off guard.
“Um…uh…how about we talk this over later?” she pulled away and tugged on his hand, walking down the street together.
“Say hi to my mom for me.” Hermione closed the pizza box and placed a heat charm on it to keep it warm.
“Hermione, I’ve got to leave for my interview, I’ll be late!” Lavender protested, drawing her sweater over her head.
“Well then, hurry!” Hermione turned her cousin around and pushed her out the back door. “Lavender’s the best girl in the world!” Her cousin rolled her eyes in reply and slammed the door shut.
“Where did we go wrong with little Hermione?” she said sarcastically. Leonora smiled.
“You’d do yourself just fine if you used your brains a little more.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Well, don’t worry about me. I can take care of myself, whether it be working here the rest of my life or marrying some rich guy.” She swung the door back open to the main part of the restaurant.
“It’s the best restaurant you’ll ever work in!” Leonora called out.
Lavender sighed and tied the box to the back of her beaten down broomstick. It was her pride and joy, old but reliable. Hopping on, she took off down to the pier where her aunt worked, packaging the fish that the men caught. She parked the broom down near a post and picked the box up.
“Hi Aunt Jane!” Lavender called out as she approached. “Got you a cheese pizza today.”
“Lavender!” Her aunt put her tools down and hugged her niece. “That’s so sweet of you.” She took the box and placed it aside. “Why don’t you sit awhile and have a piece?”
“Oh, I’d love to but I can’t.” Lavender said apologetically. “I’ve got an interview over near Shrieking Shack Road.”
“Another job? You work too much!” Jane said affectionately.
“Well, I still need more money for school, it was only a part scholarship.” Lavender had received a half scholarship for a prestigious wizarding college; she was starting late in order to get the rest of her tuition together. “Babysitting this time, I hope I can juggle it along with the waitressing job.”
“You’ll do just fine.” Her aunt said reassuringly. “I’ll see you later at home then?”
“Yes, I’ll be around this evening.” Lavender said. She waved and headed back to her broom. She loved her aunt dearly, they had a real mother/daughter relationship that Lavender hadn’t been able to have with her own mother. She sometimes wondered if Hermione was bothered by the fact that Lavender was closer to her mother than she was, she’d never said anything but it was always a thought in the back of Lavender’s head.
As she neared the address she had gotten from the ad in the Daily Prophet, she wondered what sort of child this person had, she loved kids and hoped there wouldn’t be any real problems. Lavender hopped off her broom and brushed her chin length hair back behind her ears, hoping she looked comfortable yet presentable. She left her broom on the porch and rang the bell.
“Hello?” she called into the open door.
“Come in!” a man’s voice answered from what seemed like the second level of the house. “Are you Lavender Brown?” he asked, coming down the stairs.
“Yes.” She answered as she opened the door and stepped inside.
“I’m Henry Bowers.” The man said, holding out his hand. She shook it firmly. “I’m sorry about the mess, ever since my wife left for the States the house has been in some sort of disarray.”
Lavender smiled. She loved cluttered houses; there were so many interesting things about them.
“Gloria!” Henry called. “Come on down here!” Lavender looked up as a beautiful young child shyly came down the stairs.
“Lori, this is Lavender.” Henry pulled his daughter into his arms.
“Hi Lori!” Lavender bent down so that she was eye level with the girl, giving her an engaging smile. “How old are you?”
Lori stared at her a moment. “Seven.” She finally answered.
“Four.” Henry corrected. “She’s a bit shy, as you can see, but when she gets to know you she’ll—“ the phone rang at that moment, cutting him off. “Excuse me, just one moment—Hello?” he spoke into the receiver.
Lavender crossed the room, noting a pile of toys and books in the corner. She grabbed the first book she came upon, a picture story about a princess in a tower. “Ahem!” she cleared her throat loudly. “Wow, nice pictures!”
Lori turned, peering at Lavender. Her ploy was obviously working. She smiled brightly at the child once again, and the little girl left her father’s side and hesitantly came over to her.
“Want to read this with me?” Lavender asked, and Lori nodded. She hopped up next to her and turned the page. Lavender began reading in a quiet voice, and Henry could hardly believe it when he finally hung up the phone.
“Talk about a magic touch. You use a spell?” he joked.
“Just the fact that I’ve been babysitting since I was about nine.” Lavender said.
Henry smiled. “Do you fly?”
“Yes, I have my broom outside.” Lavender replied.
“Read!” Lori tapped the book with her finger. Lavender looked back up at Henry.
“Job’s yours if you want it!” he said, his eyes twinkling.
“Great.” Lavender smiled at him then back down at Lori, and continued.